prayerscapes - creative journeys in worship and prayer

creative prayer journeys


Author Archives: Julie Palmer

About Julie Palmer

Julie is a singer/songwriter and a published writer of prayer poems. Her heart is at all times to be open and loving, especially to the least, the last and the lost. In her home church she has a ministry in prayer and pastoring, and is also a mum to two lively young boys!

May The Road Rise Up To Meet You

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

(traditional gaelic blessing)

I love the words in this blessing. It is an outpouring of peace that I have used over and over again, and in giving it out I have found that most people can receive these beautiful poetic words regardless of their background, age or beliefs. Blessing others is so very important because simple words like these can have remarkable effect on peoples lives. Blessings create equality, a level place where we stand together. They create harmony where lives join and merge – there is no room for competition or comparison here. Blessings also tend to evoke the peace that we all crave for in our hearts. “Peace be with you” to which we respond with “and also with you”. Blessings are also words of declaration, and Christian blessings stand on the finished work of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross and rose again, His victory was complete over the forces of darkness and the power of death. And now we can walk in this blessing, on this day and into eternity!

Here is the song we have created that is based on this ancient blessing:-

You can download the mp3 of this song by clicking here.

Is Life a Tower or a Picture?

Three pieces from a puzzle ona window

We all prefer not to be the one in need, the one who is confused, or the one not managing well. When I need assistance, I feel the little tower of control topple beneath me. Sometimes it only takes a brick to be displaced and all my stability seems in jeopardy. It is a precarious way to live, and yet most of us build in this way. Everything gets assembled, from our self image and careers paths, to our friendships, interests and finances, brick by brick, all carefully stacked upwards.

I believe we have this all wrong. The western ideas of individuality and progress leave us on unstable ground. What if life is more like a puzzle, with pieces of our lives linking together to form pictures and images? As one piece changes or disappears, our lives don’t collapse, we don’t become defeated or unstable. Instead, we discover that we are connected in a different way. New pictures emerge. And when we embrace brokenness in this way, we become softer, more malleable and aware of others. Now we no longer need to keep the tower stable. Now there is no tower, just a puzzle placed and made in a bed of grace.

And if we are free  to remake an area of our lives, or change a belief or understanding, then we can allow others the grace to do the same. Maybe our picture might mingle a little more, our lives affect and enhance others, and we would allow our ourselves to be changed too.

Tomorrow Came

Eye painted in watercolours

Sadly there are many in the world who suffer great adversity, grief, hardship or abuse in their childhood. I know from personal experience just how damaging this can be, because these assaults on our developing emotions, thinking patterns and self-identity can take a long time to unpick. Many young people can give testimony to the thought of “wanting it all to end” and tragically some amazing, unique beautiful ones do not survive.

I wrote this song about fifteen years back, when I was in a daily battle inside my own heart and mind with self-hatred. As I gradually accepted God’s unconditional love for me, I slowly discovered that I was able to love myself. In this new place I was able to face the roots of my despair, find counselling and support, and move towards “life”. My hope in creating this film is that with God’s help I can breathe “tomorrow” into the lives of those who continually feel they can’t face another day.

Tomorrow with love, tomorrow with promise, tomorrow with freedom, tomorrow without fear, tomorrow in relationship, tomorrow with vision, tomorrow with future! Heaven longs to embrace those in despair. If you are in this place – begin by finding someone you can confide in – whether this be a friend, family member or useful helpline.  Then carry on taking small steps each day. I have been there. And I found that even the most desolate ground in our lives can be restored with Christ as His remarkable redeeming love settles within our souls.

I hope that this testimony song will be a channel for Christ’s light and hope to help restore those in deep despair:-

Read the lyrics to this song and download the film in HD by following this link.

Prayer Darts

dartboard with dart in the centre

I have a simple way of praying when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of people I have a heart for, and find that I am “going under” trying to pray for so many different needs. It is this. I write all their names on a sheet of paper and for each one I pray one word, like “protection”, “freedom”, “finances”, “security”, “breakthrough” etc…. Sometimes by reducing my prayer into just one word it distils everything into one place, rather like hitting the centre of a dartboard. Here I discover what is needed!

As Christians, we live in family communities, fellowships of brotherhood and sisterhood. This is an amazing thing! And such a blessing to be part of. In all of this I have found that I am continually investing in new relationships, yet also retaining the friendships I have already made in church life. Sometimes these old friends have moved abroad, or life has pulled them away from church, or they have felt called to a different place or ministry. So I find myself accumulating more and more people! More people I have a heart for but no more time! I have not found an easy way around this dilemma. The only way I find though it is to allow God’s grace to surround me. In this place I remember that I am simply called to walk forwards in life and follow Christ (Matthew 11:28). So some very dear encounters with others will be just that and fall away, and others will involve years of investment. And the only way I can figure this all out is to be led by the Spirit of love, not driven by “shoulds” or “coulds”.   I am also finding that I need to extend this same grace and flexibility with my fellow travellers, for at times they too may need to let go of my friendship in order to embrace new horizons.

Take My Hand

Man Holding a small child

Often as I write I find myself slipping into a place where I believe God is speaking through me. I don’t think about this or plan it, it just seems to happen, and this song is one such occurrence.  One day my thoughts had become preoccupied with a friends daughter who was facing a very serious medical condition. As I prayed and played the piano this song came to me. It speaks of God’s heart for those who journey through the darkest valleys as they battle with life threatening illnesses. If you too are facing something similar, I hope that God will meet with you through this song. I pray that as you or a loved one of yours dwells in this “space”,  you will encounter the Living One.

In the accompanying film we have woven together a tapestry of images that reflects the Garden of Eden story. The scenes speak of eternal freedom, which we sometimes taste in this life in fleeting moments. We see a young woman running free, whole, well and full of hope, a father carrying his young son (reminiscent of the Father heart of God to us His children) and a young mother swinging her child with joy.

If you are in need of healing in some way, may the love of the Everlasting Father protect you, the hope of eternal life lift you, and power of the Almighty move within you as you watch this film.

You can read the lyrics to this film (and download a HD version) by clicking here.

 

Reflected By The Screen

Old tv

As a teenager, I watched a lot of soaps! Anything from Dallas to Eastenders, Neighbours to Friends. I’m sometimes shocked by the amount of hours it’s possible to spend doing this. I suppose I was searching, straining to see and connect with the world, and I found media to be a quick fix for these things. I was also a bookworm!! Always eager to reach the next chapter, lost in the detail of a carefully crafted human tale. As my faith started to blossom, my prayer life flourished and I guess this need fell by the wayside. Suddenly I didn’t so want to fill my mind with fiction, and gradually cut out such “telly time”. And there was a blessing in this! I found that the dreadful “comparison game” halted, as we all know that many of these media characters are just that – illusions of fiction! What’s more they are “framed” in a way that flatters and distorts.

In this new season I began to have thought time to devote to real relationships, social issues and family. This created a space in my mind for God’s love to come and transform me. It was a revelation! Here I found great productivity and creativity.

Facebook

And now I find that this space is under threat again. This time it’s filled with real people. It’s a book brimming with wonderful friends and family in, both distant and present. With many of these people I might once have just exchanged cards at Christmas time. Now I have a perpetual window into their lives. Yet I feel the burden of this too! I find it hard to keep up with so many people. And sometimes Facebook makes me feel sad and empty…with so many people living apparently fun-packed lives, it makes wonder about my own. However, on more than one occasion I have presumed from Facebook that one of my friends is leading a wonderful life, only later to find out that their lives are in crisis.

So here I stand upon the edge of a great challenge. How can I engage with the new social media world, but not fall to it? How can I be thankful for the opportunity to engage with old friends, but not be bound by it? Maybe tonight I might do something radical and pick the phone up. Have a proper chat with just one person…just like the old days!

Between Your Shadow And Mine

The inspiration behind this track came many years ago, when I used to travel the trains regularly through London city. Back then as a shy, slightly overwhelmed 18 year old, I would keep my eyes down, and watch the shadows that travellers made. I was fascinated by the way that the shadows of two people could join and overlap, yet the commuters were completely oblivious to these meetings. At the time I was a young Christian, and I wondered how I could be one with Christ, how the holiness of God could touch me. The looming shadow of tall building combining with the fleeting shadow of a person – such things form a picture of how earth and heaven combine. God is so awesome that even between that close connection other vast creative space can exist.

Abba! Abba, Father I often cry! I snuggle up in that space, in the arms of my heavenly dad, open, vulnerable, known and loved.  Such knowledge has gradually transformed my life. Light has fallen in the dark places of life, and every piece of me – my feelings, my health, my mind – is being renewed in this interaction. Yet walking in faith with Jesus is not a “done deal”, like some some signature on a dotted line that contractually binds me. It is a rich and beautiful journey, deep inside my heart and soul, one I remain open to and ever thankful for.

We’ve already used this song as part of a meditation on Psalm 139 as part of our first prayerscapes album. We thought we would start to release some of the songs we’ve written for the albums as singles, some of which will have a more scaled back, acoustic feel. So here’s the first of these! Between Your Shadow and Mine….

To download the mp3 of this song and read the lyrics, please visit this page on prayerscapes.

God’s Kingdom

criss-crossing threads

God’s Kingdom? We are taught to pray “Your Kingdom come” yet what does this look like, how is it built on the rubble of this fallen world? When praying for our city I once had a picture of golden threads, weaving their way through lives, criss-crossing areas and institutions, linking people and places. We perceive silver and gold as permanent because they were formed in the stars before the earth began! And I believe these Kingdom threads to be the same, they are permanent, seen and recorded in the heavenlies, sown into our lives and the lives of those around us. And yes, this means that God’s Kingdom can be built into a person or place – woven, sewn, interweaved and yet that person or place not acknowledge it to be Christ’s legacy at work. This Kingdom work is vital and ground changing, taking a school from ordinary to extraordinary, transforming patient care into care that connects, restores and goes beyond its perimeter.  Kingdom work can keep safe the vulnerable, provide dignity for the confused or freedom for the disabled. Kingdom friendship can protect families, rebuild marriages and heal relationships! And little by little it changes the soil in the lives of God’s children, hardened ground gets softer, stony land is filtered. The weeds die back to create fertile conditions.

In the parable of the sower we learn that what counts is where the seed falls! Kingdom threads change the ground in the families, schools, hospitals, businesses or government. This can be hard work, to continue to sow in kindness, past exhaustion, to weave in vision and hope where there is apathy, or stand up for Kingdom values in a sea of selfishness. Yet, these threads are not insignificant. They are gold that stands the test of time, treasure that is recognised beyond this crumbling world. They are life riches that sustain and empower us through this world and into the next!

Thank you Kingdom weavers of past and present! We all join with a creative God, in the work of bringing His Kingdom to earth.

Rainbow Life

rainbow over lake

I love imagery. I have always delighted my heart with it. From a young age it became very important to my wellbeing to behold beauty and wonder. Given the choice of a gourmet meal in the corner of a restaurant or a sandwich with a view, the latter has always pulled at my heartstrings. So I suppose it is unsurprising that God has given me many pictures, occasionally for myself, but mostly for others.

One phenomenon I adore to behold is the rainbow. The sight of one is a beautiful, brilliant reminder of God’s hope and promises. It shouts out “miracle”! And makes me think of the many miracles that lay all around me – nature brimming with it’s many colours and textures, a world abundant with growth and renewal, overflowing with drama and intricate life forms. Yet more than this, I love the way that a rainbow covers the ground beneath it, arching over a physical space to protect and keep it.  This is what happens when a child of God steps into the Father’s loving arms. Suddenly a great arch of kingdom life sweeps over the earth. Colour and light break out in the darkness, ground is taken for love, and hope breaks out across families, friends and workplaces. Great treasure is promised, as they take hold of redemptive love and run the race before them!  I’m regularly praying for rainbows over those I meet. Next time you meet someone, look out for the rainbow.

Prayer Connects

The poem in this film just poured out of me one night like a continuous stream of ideas, so I am a little uncertain even about attributing it to myself.

Recently I have been involved in praying for a number of very serious situations, and coming alongside those who are suffering in desperate circumstances. I have been “lost for words” in these times. What do you say when a husband and wife both face cancer with two small boys in toe, when a beautiful woman of God is held captive by intense pain or a committed mother of a son with Autism is at the end of her emotional and physical resources? I am shaken and humbled, bewildered and almost scared to speak….

But each time I have prayed, connected into the eternal, into the love of a heavenly Father, into the promises and vision of God’s Kingdom, words come. Prayer connects. I have seen it over and over again and I rejoice in having this gem in my life. So please don’t think of me as eloquent (I’m not!) but rather see this poem as a gift from above, a heavenly poem, a poem to reveal and carry, a poem to hold, to engage and to transform. God really does speak afresh each day into our hearts.

You can read the words to this poem here (and also buy a copy of the film as a download to keep).




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A Beautiful Prayer

Beautiful Tree Branches hanging low down

I think one of our deepest longings as humans is to know that there is a purpose for our lives, that we have a role to play in this world. Thankfully as Christians we can be certain that life isn’t just a random series of events. God the creator of the earth and the heavens Read More


An Ancient Celtic Blessing

hand in sunlight

“May the Road Rise Up To Meet You” is a beautiful old Celtic blessing. Blessings are a gift and ancient ones like these help us to become open channels for the fragrance of Christ to surround those we give out to. I love the references to creation – the sun, the wind, the rain – Read More


The Nicene Creed

White dove with hands raised

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